WASHINGTON STATE'S Pac-10 champion teams of 1997 and 2002 were two of the three best college football squads in the history of the Evergreen State, according to fan voting recently conducted by Both of those Cougar teams won 10 games -- including heartstoppers over USC -- and both advanced to the Rose Bowl.

The fan vote pegged the 1991 Huskies, who were 12-0 and co-national champions, the state's best-ever college football team.

If only SportsCenter was around back in 1916, that year's Washington State team may have lived on and trumped them all. Led by legendary coach Lone Star Dietz, WSU went undefeated that season, outscoring opponents 204-10 and winning the first-ever Rose Bowl in an upset of mighty Brown that firmly put West Coast football on the national map.

In addition to the greatest team, ESPN asked fans to vote for the greatest player and coach from the state of Washington. In the player category, Cougars Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf and Rueben Mayes placed in the top five. Washington's Steve Emtman was No. 1 and Warren Moon second. Among coaches, Cougars Mike Price and Babe Hollingbery were in the top four, along with Washington's Gil Dobie and No. 1 pick Don James.

THE FORTUNES OF THE Cougars and Dawgs aren't quite what they were when those players and coaches were at center stage. In Maxim magazine's recent annual ranking of the 10 worst football teams in Bowl Championship Subdivision conferences, WSU (10th) and UW (7th) were both listed.

Writer Danny Sheridan listed running back and the offensive line as two of WSU's biggest weaknesses. Cougar coach Paul Wulff has expressed considerable optimism about both spots as long as injuries don't wipe out depth and talent like last year.

"We had 40 surgeries from last August until this June, which is a record," Wulff said. "As we get bigger and stronger and do the right things to keep developing ourselves (including nutrition), that number will definitely decrease a tremendous amount."

Depth doesn't figure to be an issue at running back this season, with returning veteran experience in Dwight Tardy, Chris Ivory, Logwone Mitz, James Montgomery, Marcus Richmond and Chantz Staden.

SINGLE-GAME TICKETS for the Cougar home games go on sale Saturday, as do three-game packs. "This special on-line pre-sale opportunity will extend throughout the weekend at the Cougar Athletics official website,," said WSU's Dan Meyer. "Phone sales and in-person sales at the WSU Athletic Ticket Office will begin Monday, Aug. 3, at 9 a.m." With a five-game home schedule, Meyer feels the demand for tickets is expected to be strong. Tickets range from $20-$40, with a Family Plan option (4 tickets) available for all games for just $75.

WSU kicks off the season against Stanford, Sept. 5. The Cougars then face June Jones' SMU Mustangs on September 19. Arizona State comes to town on Oct. 10 and then the UCLA Bruins are in Nov. 14 before WSU concludes its home season against Oregon State Nov. 21.

Tickets for the Sept. 12 WSU-Hawaii game in Seattle are also on sale. Ticket prices range from $7 to $55 and are available at or by phone at 1-800-GO-COUGS.

BASEBALL LEGENDS TABBED: Former Cougars John Olerud and Ron Cey were named to The (Tacoma) News Tribune's unofficial state baseball Hall of Fame for major league players raised in Washington. The article may be found at

Olerud and Cey both played 17 seasons in the majors and won World Series titles. Olerud, a first baseman from Bellevue, hit .295 with 255 home runs. Cey, from Tacoma, was a perennial All-Star third baseman with the Dodgers. He hit .261 with 316 home runs over his career.

COUGAR WOMEN'S BASKETBALL coach June Daugherty has done it again. Her 2009 recruiting class has been rated by, the foremost authority on prep women's basketball, as one of the top classes in the nation. In their final tabulations that came out last week, HoopGurlz pegged Daugherty's four-person class at No. 38. This comes on the heels of the Cougars' No. 16-rated class a year ago.

The incoming class consists of point guard Ki-Shawna "Ki-Ki" Moore, a national top 100 prospect from San Francisco; 6-5 center Carly Noyesof Moses Lakes; shooting guard Ireti Amojo of Germany (and Auburn-Riverside High for a time); and 6-4 forward Razz Muir of Australia.

In the HoopGurlz rankings, the Cougs' class was rated higher than --- STOP THE PRESSES! -- national juggernaut UConn. Alas, the ever-loaded Huskies took just one player in this year's class.

WORLD STAGE: Rugile Mileisyte, the WSU record-holder in the 50-meter freestyle, is competing at the World Swimming Championships this week in Rome. Milisyte, a member of the Lithuania national team, competed at the NCAA Championships and World University Games earlier this year with Cougar teammate Michaela Ahlin of Sweden. Ahlin holds the WSU records in the 100 and 200 butterfly.

BIG TIME SOCCER: Kiersten Dallstream, a forward on the WSU soccer team, started at defender and played all 90 minutes in the United States' 3-1 win over England in an Under-23 friendly in Bisham, England, earlier this month. Dallstream came off the bench in a scrimmage between the two teams.

Ali Fenter, a WSU defender, participated in a national U20 development camp this summer. Dallstream helped the U.S. win a gold medal at the U20 World Cup last year.

On Sunday, the Ohio club team of incoming freshman Ashley Loughmiller lost in the U18 national title game in Lancaster, Mass. Another incoming freshman, Caitlin Bresnahan, played for the third-place Pleasanton (Calif.) Rage.

BRUNSON SPEAKS OUT: Cindy Brunson, an anchor on ESPN's "SportsCenter," played a year of junior varsity basketball at WSU before blowing out a knee. The Tacoma native earned a communications degree at WSU, then worked at TV stations in Spokane and Portland prior to her move to ESPN 10 years ago.

Brunson had some interesting comments about the secretly taped video of ESPN colleague Erin Andrews. The Tri-City Herald article may be found at

BALL HIRED BY IDAHO: Tandi Ball, wife of WSU assistant head football coach Chris Ball, has been hired as the cheer coach at Idaho. Tandi is a former Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader who has worked with the WSU cheer squad.

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